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Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP) report new incident

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Category: Freelance

Photographer stopped by police - The Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP) have reported that yet another photographer has had a clash with the police.

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Press Release:BFP logo
In yet another clash between the police and photographers taking pictures in public places, a photographer claims a police community support officer (PCSO) ordered him to delete several of his pictures and told him he could not photograph people without their permission.

Photographer John Kelly is enrolled on a photography course at Blackpool and Fylde college and was out seeking shots for a competition entitled Blackpool Life, organised by Blackpool Council. Mr Kelly says the officer insisted that he delete several images.

This is yet another case highlighted by the Bureau of Freelance Photographers in its continuing campaign to protect photographers’ rights. It seems that photographers are increasingly being stopped by police from taking pictures in public places, and details of this latest incident appear in the latest (March) issue of the BFP’s monthly Market Newsletter.

An increasing number of members have sought help from the BFP after facing what they consider harassment. In many cases, police are using stop and search powers without reasonable cause to prevent photographers – both amateur and professional – from taking pictures.

“The simple fact,” says John Tracy of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers, “is that police do not have the right, except in exceptional circumstances, to stop people from taking pictures in public places.”


For more information about the BFP, please visit their website.


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Comments

cameracat
cameracat  108575 forum posts Norfolk Island61 Constructive Critique Points
10 Mar 2008 - 3:49 PM

This is rather old news, But it does seem to highlight a problem with the Education of the PCSO brigade, Especially those wielding personal axes to grind......Sad

Therefore it would be wrong to accuse the Police as a whole.....!

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10 Mar 2008 - 5:21 PM

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Iain_Proudfoot
10 Mar 2008 - 5:21 PM

The police service in general seem to have a blanket ignorance on the entitlements of members of the public to take photographs in public places. PCSO's more so.

Law enforcement can only stop a photographer if:

[1] They have reasonalble grounds to suspect that a criminal offence has been, is being, or is about to be committed;

[2] Under common law, an obstruction to the public highway is being caused by the photographer's actions/conduct;

[3] A photographer is on a private estate to take pictures, without having the appropriate consent of the lawful land-owner, as this may constitute an offence if you were there with an unlawful purpose (contrary to the Vagrancy Act, 1824;

[4] In the interests of national security, eg. taking pictures of sites protected by virtue of the Offical Secrets Act, 1989;

When an officer does stop you, you are entitled by law (The Police & Criminal Evidence Act, 1984 + the associated codes of practices), to know why you are being stopped (with the exception of terrorist incidents). Plus you are entitled to know the grounds and powers the officer has evoked to stop you. This must be written down and you must be give verbal reasons too at the time (unless it is not practicable to do so).

If an officer embarks in to civil law, concerning consent to too take photographs in a public place, he or she is on a weak footing automatically, as the officer is not empowered to do so, nor authorised (except if the above apply).

The officer may wish to seek guidance from a supervising officer (especially PCSO's who receive only cursory training in criminal law).

Whilst not knowing the specific circumstances of the incident in Blackpool, it seems like the PCSO has acted unlawfully and contrary to the powers afforded to him by his office. Inevitably this likely to be due to the individual being mis-informed, poorly trained and poorly supervised.

There are no provisions in the general duties of a regular police officers to demand the removal of images from a camera in possession of a person in the street. He may invite you to do so on behalf of a member of the public who has made a complaint to him. But in this instance the officer would be acting outside of his warrant (as a civiliain in other words). The member of the public who made the compliant has their own entitlements of course.

If the officer suspects an offence then he must consider seizing the equipment concerned accordingly (using one of various powers to seize evidence concerned with a crime) and consider using powers of arrest. These powers are not available to PCSOs, whose powers are very limited indeed.

But please remember, the officer may have an honestly held believe that he is "doing the right thing". Please be patient and calm. Being polite and reasonable yourself will encourage the same from the officer. If you become abusive you could make yourself liable to arrest for a breach of the peace or for disorderly behaviour.

REMEMBER: If you are uncertain of an officers course of actions, then record everything that has happened in writting and as contemporaneously as possible. Go to any police station and register your complaint with the appropriate officer.

I recommend reading the guidance given by Lawyer Linda Macpherson on this link:-

http://www.sirimo.co.uk/ukpr.php

Happy Snapping!!!

Last Modified By Iain_Proudfoot at 10 Mar 2008 - 5:32 PM
Paul Morgan
Paul Morgan e2 Member 1214399 forum postsPaul Morgan vcard England6 Constructive Critique Points
11 Mar 2008 - 3:19 AM

Interesting all this, have recently logged a complaint with the PCC and just waiting for the outcome now.

Nothing to do with the rights of a photographer, but the rights of a child not to be photographed in a public place Smile

It would be interesting to know what these pictures were of, that he was asked to delete and had a member of public complained about him ?

Last Modified By Paul Morgan at 11 Mar 2008 - 3:26 AM
Iain_Proudfoot
11 Mar 2008 - 8:52 PM

I understand the law to be that there are no statutes which proscribe the rights of the photographer or the rights of their subjects. Though of course there is much law covering copyright issues.

If I had my picture taken, and subsequently withdrew my consent for the photographer to possess my image, what law can I rely upon if the photographer refused to relinquish his right to his image (- a form of property)? I'm not sure there is any civil remedy. Just mutual co-operation/agreement.

If a photographer took an image of a child the situation does not seem to change. But, sadly our society is blackened by a blight of perverts, who have made all of us sensitive and protective towards our siblings. But still what legal framework is in place to handle such complaints? Other than those criminal offences concerning lewd pictures of children.

Having a model or property release provides protection - but to what extent?

The point is, our freedom to take pictures is an enjoyable part of our overall liberty. Ought not it remain so? Should we then want our hobby or profession to be legislated for? And can we afford to keep hearing about over-zealous law enforcement breaching in to our civil liberty?

Happy Snapping!!!

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